Council discusses removalof Main Street shade trees

By on June 10, 2015


A total of four trees have been cut down along Ephrata Borough’s central business district.

While some residents have expressed concern, so far there are no indications there is anything “shady” going on with the missing shade trees.

In fact, Ephrata Borough takes shade trees rather seriously. It is among those local municipalities to have a Shade Tree Commission in place to promote care, planting and protection of the borough’s shade tree canopy. And, that work has paid off in the borough being named a Tree City USA.

Residents of Ephrata likewise value their trees. When a few trees along Main Street happen to be removed, they notice and raise questions. Those questions, filtered through council member Anthony Kilkuskie made it to borough council chambers for Monday night’s regular meeting.

Initially Kilkuskie questioned which council committee was responsible for oversight of the shade tree commission. Council vice president Susan Rowe reminded Kilkuskie that regardless of which committee, all shade tree commission meeting were open to the public to attend.ER Tree Cuts 2

The commission must examine the tree and approve its removal.

Mayor Ralph Mowen noted he was aware of the concerns raised with Kilkuskie about the four trees removed along Main Street and said and had already spoken to commission chair George DiIlio for further information.

“Two of the trees which were removed were diseased,” explained Mowen, “and two were heaving the pavers.”

Mowen went on to say that the tree in front of Gravenor’s Home for Funerals and the Groves had to be removed due to borers which were attacking the trees. He said that both trees were dying.

“The trees in front of Royers and in front of Liberty [Tax Prep] were heaving the pavers and creating a trip hazard,” Mowen continued. “This created a lawsuit or possible lawsuit. I’m not a fan of cutting down trees but in our situation we didn’t have the ability or luxury of doing anything else.”

Borough manager Bob Thompson further explained that with regard to the two trees which were raising the pavers, the problem was caused because both trees had been planted too shallow.

“Their roots were working their way out and there was nothing we could do to prevent this,” added Thompson.

Thompson noted the commission’s succession plan for shade trees in the downtown business district. In some cases, situations such as these call for trees to be removed sooner than later so as to start the next tree cycle.

Mowen pointed out that in his wife’s work with the city of Lancaster, special trenches are cut prior to planting new trees to encourage the new roots to follow a certain path and prevent damages to the roads and sidewalks.

For his part Kilkuskie seemed to have gained further understanding to take back to his constituent. Kilkuskie has himself completed the tree tender program through the shade tree commission. He noted that through that training he recognized that tree roots will go where the food is, but had not considered the idea of creating trenches for new trees.

Later, during open comments by citizens, East Main Street resident Dennis Rowe questioned council regarding the three feet wide minimum path required for sidewalk sales. Earlier in the evening council approved an Ephrata Merchants request for sidewalk sales from June to November, conditioned on allowing that minimum to be in compliance with ADA requirements. According to Rowe, there were portions of Main, Locust and other borough sidewalks which did not allow for that minimum and which would create a significant challenge for those on a wheelchair or motorized scooter to get around. He said in some cases those minimums were created because of trees encroaching on the walkway.

Vice President Rowe, who had charge of Monday’s meeting, suggested Mr. Rowe make a thorough list of these problem points and submit them to the highway committee.

“And the shade tree commission,” added Kilkuskie. “That would give them another reason to chop more trees down, which apparently they already have according to a complaint I have gotten from a citizen.”

In other borough council news, council unanimously approved a temporary traffic detour for WellSpan Ephrata Hospital as it completes work on its expansion of the health pavilion. The approved traffic changes direct vehicles entering the campus from Route 272 to turn left instead of right. Traffic will then exit the campus at Ephrata Ave and turn right onto Martin Ave and then right into the campus at the health pavilion and parking lot.

For additional information on Ephrata Borough, please visit their website at Gary P. Klinger welcomes your feedback via email at


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